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Mozilla Makes Firefox Social With New API

Max ‘Beast from the East’ Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope.

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As a taster, Firefox 17 comes with complete Facebook Messenger integration

Mozilla has launched a ‘Social API’ for the Firefox desktop browser, allowing developers to build tools that integrate social network feeds right into the browser window.

To test the new feature, Mozilla added native Facebook Messenger support to the latest version of the browser – Firefox 17, released on Tuesday.

Social fox

According to Mozilla, visits to social networking sites account for about 20 percent of all time spent online worldwide. But checking your feeds takes time, requires logging in and shifting attention from whatever it is you were doing. And what if you constantly visit five or six websites?

The Social API solves this problem, by integrating user’s social life right into the browser layout. It includes a new ‘social’ sidebar and notification buttons, and allows interaction with contacts “no matter where they are on the Web”.

With Social API plug-ins, there is no need to switch between or open new tabs. The feature enables users to stay in touch while doing online shopping, reading news, watching a webcast or playing games.

As a taster, the latest version of Firefox includes full Facebook Messenger integration. In action, it looks like someone took a layer of Facebook and slapped it on top of whatever website you happen to be visiting.

Mozilla has promised to add support for more features and social networks in the future, and is currently collecting suggestions and feedback from users. “Today’s Social API is just the beginning of making Firefox more social,” read a statement on the Mozilla blog.

Besides Social API, the latest version of Firefox features an improved Awesome Bar, additional developer tools and click-to-play blocklisting. It fixes a whopping 2365 bugs, but kills support for Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard).

Mozilla has also released an update to its free Thunderbird email client, adding new design elements and improving security.

Last week, the organisation announced that the revenues of the Mozilla Foundation and its subsidiaries grew 33 percent in 2011, fuelled mostly by Google, which pays royalties every time a Firefox user tries to find something online through its search engine.

Earlier in November, Mozilla launched a number of new products at its annual MozFest event, including media remixing tool Popcorn Maker, Mozilla Webmaker badge programme, and the UK Digital Makers fund, created in partnership with IT charity Nesta and the Nominet Trust.

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